The Roller Man

Once the holidays are over a lot of people curl up on their sofas and sink into clinical depression. And I am not kidding.

I base this statement on an article sent to me by Glenn, a family therapist who notices a spike in depressed patients after the holidays. He gives examples of why this occurs:

1. Less sunshine.
2. No fun stuff to do.
3. Nobody parties in January.
4. Or travels.
5. Going back to work sucks.
6. And you’re fat.

I called a family therapist to get a few comments on the issue. But I got his secretary who said that he would charge $800 per hour for a phone consultation, so I decided to:

Go roller skating.

Again, I am serious. This seemed like a good idea because evidence shows that skating might help with post-holiday blues. Also, my cousin’s children were attending a birthday party at a roller rink.

So the next thing I knew, we were in a rundown skating rink with cars arriving in the parking lot by the dozen.

Carl, the man who runs the rink said, “Rinks like ours ain’t gettin’ much business no more.” Carl spit into a Mountain Dew bottle. “But today we got a big party, so hey, that’ll pay the light bill.”

The first order of business at any rink is to exchange your perfectly good shoes at the counter for some truly disgusting ones. Behind the counter, I met a woman who also appeared to be suffering from Seasonal Depression. I have met junkyard Rottweilers with warmer personalities.

“What size?” she said.


“Thirteen? You joking?”


“We don’t have thirteens.”

“How about a twelve and a half?”

She looked on a rack. “Biggest I got is an eleven.”

“That’s not gonna work.”

“Take it up with the complaint department.”

The woman slammed down a pair of skates that smelled like they hadn’t been fumigated since the beginning of the Cold War.

When we laced up, my feet were squishing in the soles from an unidentifiable sticky substance that felt like a overly ripe banana stuck in my shoe. And away we went.

This place was a throwback to childhood. A disco ball, a snack booth, the sound system was thumping. Soon, the rink filled with kids in birthday attire who were all high-level skating experts.

I was lost in a sea of tiny people who all had the ability to skate forward, backward, sideways, upside-down, and even one-legged. Meanwhile, I was holding onto my cousin Erin (10 years old) for dear life.

Eventually, the music changed from pulsating thunderstorms to a soft chorus. The Bee Gees were singing, “How Deep is Your Love.”

Erin told me, “This is when everyone couple-skates.”

“I know that.”

“You do? But you’re old.”

I informed Erin that this was not my first rodeo. I was not born during the Punic Wars. I know what couple-skating is, and I have even done it before. This impressed her.

Then she pointed out a boy from her school named Jay. She admitted that she wanted him to ask her to couple-skate, but Jay is not a fast mover. He is like most men and prefers to play it slow. In fact, in romantic terms, Jay moves about as fast as a geological period.

“He doesn’t even know I’m alive,” she said.

So I explained that this is actually a good sign when it comes to boys. A boy is a very subtle creature. If he likes you, he will indicate this by not making eye contact. If he REALLY likes you, he won’t talk to you and might even leave the country under a false name.

“Boys are weird,” said Erin.

“Yes they are.”

I went on to tell Erin that there is only one way to prompt a guy into action. It is a technique that has been working successfully since the beginning of time. I am of course talking about jealousy.

“How do I make him jealous?” Erin asked.

“By skating with the tallest, coolest guy in the whole skating rink who just crammed his fat feet into size-eleven Barbie-doll skates and also happens to be deadly handsome.”

“But there’s nobody here like that.”

So Erin settled for skating with me instead.

In fact, a lot of adults were skating with the littler kids. This is because if it were left up to these preteens to actually ask each other to couple-skate they would simply whip out their phones and start sending text messages to God knows who. Sometimes I worry about today’s youth.

I skated passed one middle-aged man holding hands with his daughter. He looked at me and said, “I had hernia surgery last week, if I go down, call nine-one-one.”

I am sad to say that our jealous-making ploy didn’t work. Because on our second lap, I saw Jay disappear into the arcade with his friends. And I felt like a heel.

When the song ended, peppy kid-music fired up again and it sounded like a nuclear war. The skaters loved it.

I sat on the sidelines with the adults and ate Skating Rink Food. The nacho cheese had the vague consistency of two-day-old phlegm. And that’s when we saw it.

Little Erin was holding hands with a young man who was red in the face, and didn’t dare look us in the eyes when they skated by.

“Look,” said my cousin. “He finally asked her.”

Erin gave me a thumbs up

And if that doesn’t cure your post-holiday blues, nothing will.


  1. sparkerlpc - January 4, 2020 12:04 pm

    Yaaay, it WORKED! Well played, Sean!

  2. Jubilate Latte - January 4, 2020 12:11 pm

    Such a sweet, happy story! It should clear out the blues for anyone lucky enough to read it!

  3. Julie Mason - January 4, 2020 12:28 pm

    I love starting my day reading your posts. The world needs more Sean!

  4. Keloth Anne - January 4, 2020 1:15 pm

    You saved the day 🥰🥰🥰 and made dreams come true!!!! Just wonderful ❤️

  5. Judith A Mercer - January 4, 2020 1:41 pm

    Fond memories from long long ago….

  6. Karen - January 4, 2020 1:46 pm

    I sure wish they’d make a few improvements at the roller skating rinks- at least, give you decent shoe laces that actually lace up and tie.

  7. Berryman Mary M - January 4, 2020 2:04 pm

    What the world needs now is Love, sweet Love…………

  8. Shelton A. - January 4, 2020 2:39 pm

    Erin is my daughter’s name. She would have just grabbed the kid she liked and hauled him out. Erin is way past not shy. She’s 25 and spends much to much time on her phone, too.

  9. Jess - January 4, 2020 3:00 pm

    Sean, I really liked the column about a skating rink because fifty-seven years ago I met a girl at a local skating rink by doing what you described. I saw her and wanted to meet her, but I was too shy to skate over and talk to her….so I just started staring at her as she skated by. Eventually she came over to where I was standing and we started talking. Talking led to skating together…..which led to dating… led to steady dating…..which led to our eventual marriage. We’ve been married fifty-three years and every now and then we talk abut that old skating rink and what it led to. We hold skating rinks in a special place in our hearts.

  10. that's jack - January 4, 2020 3:56 pm

    I can’t believe this. REal boys skate on hard dirt, roads and sidewalks sometimes, not in a sissy RINK. What is a Rink anyway? LOL
    I know you and the kids had a good time, Good read but honestly I don’t think I have ever been in a skating rink. I guess you didn’t do much skating on the creeks and ponds, me neither.
    The best in this year to you bro,
    Sherry & ajck

  11. Dawn A Bratcher - January 4, 2020 3:56 pm

    Lol! Sounds to me like she asked him!

  12. Linda Moon - January 4, 2020 4:33 pm

    I’d love to find a good skating rink, not to cure winter blues, but just to bring back memories of childhood roller skating,….except for one. At one of my skating rodeos, a cute boy rolled up alongside me and asked if I liked to travel. I said, “Sure”. So he put a coin in my hand and said, “Here’s a dime. Go to Hell.” And then he skated away. But in spite of the jerk’s offer to travel there were no blues for me then and there are no post-holiday blues now. Your stories, Sean, are better for me than attempting to roller skate again!!

  13. Steve Winfield - January 5, 2020 8:51 am

    We had the kind with steel wheels that fastened on to your shoes with a key, like a drum key. Some old torn down buildings had left behind concrete slabs. A couple hours raking & sweeping & we had our own rink. Some old brooms & a Falstaff can & we had a game like hockey.
    My dad always told the story of Arco Wallace getting Thomas Smith to put skates on & hold a rope tied to the bumper of his 47 Ford. Took a curve way too fast & my grandma had to paint Thomas with Merthiolate. He was pink for weeks.
    Skating rinks were cool but there weren’t any rules at the slab. Those little joints in the concrete had this tar like stuff that oozed up from the cracks like mini speed bumps. If the tar got in your wheels you’d have to soak the skates in gasoline. That definitely messed with your traction for a few hours.

    H. N. Y!
    Love, Steve.


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